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Vote First, Ask Questions Later

Before looking at the Hall of Fame potential of my ballot, I decided to choose my list of 10 by gut feel, then check stats later.

Cooperstown, NY by Dan Gaken is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Vote First, Ask Questions Later

Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes

The 2022 BBWAA ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame election were announced last week, with the results set to be announced on January 25th.

Now, nearly 400 baseball writers will pull themselves out of their armchairs, sharpen their pencils and stroll down to the local post office, as MLB Hall of Fame ballots must still be recorded by hand and sent by mail.

Last year, the curmudgeons didn’t deem anyone worthy of Hall of Fame selection, mostly because of moral, ethical or political differences as opposed to baseball credentials. That’s not expected to happen this year, especially with the new class of candidates.

Rather than pore over the stats and accolades, I decided to just go with my gut and pick the ten names on the list that stood out to me as Hall of Famers, and then to do the research after the fact to see if the numbers justified my votes.

It turned out that my ten-player list of votes fell into a few different categories.

The Roid Guys – Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez

My Gut Told Me:
I don’t know what we’re doing at this point if we don’t have these guys in the Hall of Fame. The story is out – nobody is surprised by the audacity these guys had to take advantage of a lax stance on steroids in the 1990’s. The games happened, and these guys dominated while they were playing. Keeping them out of the Hall of Fame isn’t going to erase what they did or how they did it.  

The Stats Told Me:
Clemens has the most Cy Young Awards of any pitcher in MLB history, won two World Series, holds the MLB record for strikeouts in a game, and led the majors in ERA in seven different seasons.

Bonds is of course one of the most prolific home run hitters to ever play the game, with the record for both career home runs (762) and single-season home runs (73). He also holds the record for walks in a career (2,558) and in a season (232) and had the best OBP and Slugging Percentage in a single season. He was the NL MVP seven times. That’s ridiculous. Nobody else has won more than three. How can a seven-time MVP not be in the Hall of Fame?

A-Rod was a polarizing figure, but was one of those three-time MVPs. He was also a 14x All-Star, 10x Silver Slugger and led the American League in home runs five times. He came just four home runs shy of 700 career dingers, and holds the record for most grand slams in a career (25).

These three guys are considered among the best to ever play baseball. Yeah, they played during an era in which steroids ran rampant. It’s part of baseball history and so are they. Isn’t that what the Hall is for?

The Mashers: Manny Ramirez, Sammy Sosa, David Ortiz

My Gut Told Me:
These three were some of the greatest pure home run hitters in baseball history. My gut tells me that these three are responsible for the power surge of the late 90’s and 2000’s in baseball. Also, I have the same sentiments as expressed above in regards to their possible (read: definite) connections to steroids.

The Stats Told Me:
Obviously as a Red Sox fan I watched Manny and Ortiz for much of their careers. Ortiz, who should not have the fact that he was a DH held against him, was one of the most clutch postseason players I’ve ever seen. A 3x World Series champion, Ortiz is more than just a great hitter – he was a big personality in a game that lacked big personalities. For nearly 20 years, he brought energy and love for the game of baseball, while also performing and winning consistently on the biggest stages. A first-ballot Hall of Famer if I ever saw one.

Manny and Sosa are both flawed candidates because of their relationships with PEDs. Manny probably has the better case, with a .312 career batting average, and his role in the 2004 and 2007 Red Sox World Series. He was the MVP in the 2004 curse-breaking Red Sox win. Sosa of course stands out for his great duel with Mark McGwire in the summer of 1998, but that means that he’s probably not going to get in, as McGwire was held out because of his admittance of PED usage.  

The Gloves: Scott Rolen, Omar Vizquel, Andruw Jones

My Gut Told Me:
These three guys got my gut to vote for them based on their longevity as pillars of teams who played exceptional defense for many years. They are synonymous with their franchises, and their contributions to the game of baseball make them stand out immediately as Hall of Famer candidates.

The Stats Told Me:
Jones was a 10-time Gold Glove winner, earning the award every year from 1998-2007, all as a member of the Atlanta Braves. Rolen won the Gold Glove eight times, including four with the Phillies, three with the Cardinals and once with the Reds. Vizquel, a member of the Indians for 10 years, won 11 Gold Gloves, including nine during his time in Cleveland.

The Clutch Winner: Andy Pettitte

My Gut Told Me:
Pettitte was a pain in the ass to face as a Red Sox fan, particularly in the postseason, when it seemed like he was impossible to beat. Aside from maybe Mariano Rivera, Pettitte embodies the championship pedigree of the Yankees pitching during their dominance in the 90’s.

The Stats Told Me:
A five-time World Series winner as part of the Yankees “Core Four”, Pettitte is the MLB postseason wins leader with 19 playoff victories. His numbers were fine, 256-153 record with a 3.85 career ERA, but it was in the playoffs where Pettitte shined and earned his gut Hall of Fame vote.

So there you have it. A Hall of Fame ballot voted on entirely with my gut. I don’t regret any of the selections, and I think the research after the fact supports each of their candidacy.

Who gets your gut’s vote for the HOF?

Craig has spent the last ten years as a sports information professional, working for several schools across New England at the Division 3 level. A native of Peabody, Mass., Craig is a life-long Boston sports fan. He is also an avid player of fantasy football and baseball, and commissioner of the AKA Family Fantasy Football League. Like most other Turf team members, Craig has a penchant for theater, spending his high school and college years as a set designer, sound designer and theater shop worker. He became a father shortly before the coronavirus pandemic, and as such, hasn't really left his home since last December.

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